The Halo series is a great journey and not just built on a monument of moments, but it’s got those too. Action-packed endings, explosive firefights, and truly meaningful world building help make these five levels better than all the rest. 

Here are the five most magical stops on Master Chief’s Magical Mystery Tour through the Halo universe!

The Five Best Levels in the Halo Series (or Master Chief’s Magical Mystery Tour)

The Silent Cartographer

It may be the fourth Halo level but it was the first area created by Bungie. The Silent Cartographer is the essential Halo experience. It always has been, which is part of the reason many are so comforted by the recent comparisons made between the iconic level and Halo Infinite’s structure. 

Start here if you want to find out what Halo is all about in the shortest amount of time. (Don’t do that though. Play all of the Halo games.) The classic Combat Evolved level contains multiple alien structures all contained within a single, remote island.

The pacing is perfect and the level is pretty open too, especially for 2001. 

New Alexandria

New Alexandria has an open structure as well but with some big differences from The Silent Cartographer. The empire is striking back in New Alexandria and the city is in ruins. The mission has the player character taking on a few key missions with some smaller, random ones tossed in as well. 

It makes the mission feel more alive, which is nice considering how dire the story is at this point in Halo Reach. The gameplay also has great variety with combat taking place across several different locations that players have to fly to while fighting enemies in the skies along the way.

Halo

Halo takes a slower approach than levels mentioned so far but it’s no less important or exciting. It starts with Master Chief and Cortana crash landing onto a strange world with ancient structures. Oh, and there’s a giant ring around the world called Halo. 

Serving as an introduction to the open skies and Warthog rides that would quickly become a fan favorite, Halo is a blast whether it’s your first time or the millionth time. And it really highlights what makes the Halo series different from other shooters. 

Dawn

Dawn is the first level of Halo 4, a very good video game that deserves much more praise. The level starts with Master Chief waking from cryosleep after the events of Halo 3. Thing escalate quickly after a scary and dramatic start. 

Taking place among the wreckage of Master Chief’s ship, the Forward Unto Dawn, the level brings back the Covenant while also introducing a new threat. It’s an incredible beginning that shows developer 343 Industries understands exactly how to start a Halo game.

Halo Infinite can’t come soon enough.

Pillar of Autumn/Lone Wolf 

Pillar of Autumn and Lone Wolf are the ending of Halo Reach and Noble Six, the player character that was doomed from the start. The levels are epic from start to finish as Noble Six and the rest of their squad hold back the Covenant just long enough for the UNSC to escape with Master Chief, Cortana, and crucial intelligence that could shift the balance of the war. 

Despite the grim circumstances and the squad knowing their fate, they hold together and are ultimately successful in their mission. There is no way to survive the end of the true final mission, Lone Wolf. The section features Noble Six fighting for their life against endless waves of Covenant forces.

Noble Six’s helmet cracks as damage is taken, which is visible on screen to the player. It’s intense and one of the most effective endings in video games. 


Honorable Mentions: Halo 3: ODST. The whole game. Play it. Listen to the soundtrack too. 

Other honorable mentions include Salvo Highway (Halo 3), Sword Base (Halo Reach), Midnight (Halo 4), and Pillar of Autumn (Combat Evolved) 

Related: Defining Halo — Breaking Down the Series and What It Means to Be Master Chief